Nov. 13 (UPI) -- An Andy Warhol painting of actress Farrah Fawcett is at the center of a major legal battle, kicking off a two-week trial pitting Fawcett's longtime partner Ryan O'Neal against the University of Texas.
When Fawcett died in 2009, she left all her artwork to the university, her alma mater, in a living trust. That collection included a silkscreen portrait of the actress, which went to the university after her death.
But it turned out there was a second, nearly identical portrait. Greg Lott, Fawcett's college boyfriend who claims he got back together with her in 1998, tipped off the school, who managed to locate the painting at O'Neal's Malibu home, setting off the legal battle.
O'Neal and Fawcett dated and lived together on and off from 1979 until her death, and have a son together. He claims the second portrait was given to him by Warhol, and hung in his home until 1998.
O'Neal admits Fawcett moved out of their shared home after finding him in bed with another woman in 1997.
“And the reason I gave it to her is because there was a new woman in my life and the painting was making her uncomfortable; that Farrah seemed to be staring down at her,” according to an O’Neal deposition in August 2012.
“And so I said, ‘Well, I can fix that.’ I took it to Farrah and said, ‘Keep this for me. I’ll be back.’”
While they reconciled in 2001, O'Neal did not take the painting from her home until after her death.
The university contends Fawcett -- not O'Neal -- owned the painting, noting that she had purchased insurance for both portraits and signed documents loaning them to the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, saying she was the owner.
While Lott claims he was with Fawcett for the last 11 years of her life, a story corroborated by the $100,000 she left him in her will, O'Neal was the one to pick her up from the hospital in April 2009, shortly before her June 25 death.
The witness list to the star-studded trial includes Lott, Fawcett's son Redmond O'Neal, and her Charlie's Angels co-star Jaclyn Smith.
O'Neal is represented by "guard dog to the stars" celebrity attorney Martin Singer, and is also seeking the return of the "Warhol napkin," a sketch of split hearts drawn on a cloth napkin and inscribed to Fawcett and O'Neal while the trio was at dinner. The napkin is in the possession of the University of Texas.